Global pandemic turning Aussies into midnight shoppers

Sleep and shopping? Many people may believe the two aren’t linked, but as it is with everything in 2020, shopping habits are changing.

COVID-19 has altered so much of our lives, but the biggest may well be the lack of a regular routine. Many Australians are working from home, and the 30-second commute from breakfast bar to home office has changed more than our morning routine.

Global research by Wordstream, using data we compiled, shows that there has been a 49 per cent increase in internet browsing between midnight and 3am. At the other end of the spectrum, there is 27 per cent less browsing during the traditional commuting times of 5am to 8am.

What this tells us is that people’s mindsets have changed, and they are less concerned with sticking to the regular hours to which we once adhered. This move from the standard nine-to-five means the clock no longer matters in the same way it used to and people’s media consumption has changed because of it.

Most of all, people are spending far more money online during the pandemic. The same Wordstream study showed a 16 per cent increase globally in e-commerce.

It’s no different for Australian businesses, with most experiencing a huge spike in e-commerce growth since March this year. This Black Friday sales are expected to double compared to those in 2019.

Businesses can’t sit back and hope to cash in, though. The changes haven’t just been in the time of day people are shopping online, but also how they are doing it. When it comes to search terms, more people are asking conversational questions – “how to renovate my bathroom”, for example.

This shift provides an excellent opportunity for brands to educate, assist and become a trusted advisor, especially since brand loyalty now plays less of a role in people’s decisions to buy. This could be due to supply chain disruptions and because people have become more sensitive to price. Research

from McKinsey highlighted more than 60 per cent of consumers changed their shopping behaviour due to convenience or value.

Ensure you have the content to address consumer needs to enable customers to stay up to date. For example, the increase in queries about DIY or contactless delivery means you should include these in your content and website strategy to ensure customers who search these queries are shown relevant messaging rather than generic information.

However, simply having the information available isn’t enough. You have to get people there with an upgrade to your SEM, traditionally seen as the bottom funnel activity tactic within digital advertising.

We’ve seen a shift to using SEM in a more proactive way to cater more to middle and upper funnel tactics within the marketing funnel, to take advantage of the gradual shift to more conversational and information seeking queries from users.

Building brand trust should be a top priority when creating current SEM strategies, not dissimilar to other marketing and communication strategies. Within SEM this means updating strategies in-platform (like keyword lists, ads and even bidding and optimisations). Direct consumers to relevant content, first and foremost, update your messaging to keep them informed but not misled. Be adaptive to the technical optimisations required in-platform to cater to changes in consumer behaviour.

Showcase your approach to COVID and the hygiene methods you’re using to keep employees and customers safe. People are seeking this assurance, and you need to provide it as part of your business.

During this uncertain time with changes to habitual behaviours, be the brand that helps customers with their online journey and they’ll reward you long-term.

Rhett Mitchelhill, Search and Affiliates Lead, Half Dome

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